Winky Wright/Paul Williams Preview

wright vs williams25.02.09 - By Paul Gillette, photo by Jan Sanders/Goossen Tutor - 29 years to the day after the launch of the ill-fated Apollo 13, former Junior Middleweight champion Ronald “Winky” Wright (51-4, 25 KO) attempts a comeback against two-weight titlist Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KO) in a non-title 160 pound fight.

Will this be an aborted comeback for Wright or will the veteran be able to overcome his age and inactivity to pull out the victory against the lanky up-and-comer from Aiken, SC?

The momentum clearly favors the more active Williams, who, counting his bout with Antonio Margarito, which occurred a week prior to Wright-Hopkins, has fought 5 times since Winky fought last.. Along with former pound-for-pound entrant Margarito, Williams fought Carlos Quintana twice at 147, gaining his first loss in the first fight and getting some absolute king-hell getback via a first round knockout in the rematch, moved up two divisions to 160 and demolished unheralded but sturdy Andy Kolle in one, then soundly beat three-time beltholder Verno Phillips at 154 to claim a vacant title, despite a pretty mean cut. Williams has proved in the last couple years that he is nothing if not a versatile fighter, willing to move through the ranks to prove he is the best.

Wright on the other hand has been very quiet since his draw with Jermain Taylor, then recognized champ at 160. He put on a clinic against Ike Quartey, an excellent fighter but pretty far removed from his best weight and prime and then took on the seemingly ageless Bernard Hopkins in a catchweight fight of 170 for Hopkins’ Light Heavyweight championship. The Hopkins fight was a sloppy affair, with Winky getting a horrible cut over his eye, but Wright managed to keep the fight close, losing a UD in a difficult fight to score that was closer than the scorecards suggested. Winky was clearly above his best weight and looked sluggish, though, especially after the cut.

Momentum only tells a part of the story though. Wright may be inactive, but he is still a middleweight, and has much, much more experience than the younger Williams. Winky is also a defensive master, and this is the real x-factor of this fight. Williams has proven to have difficulties against someone who tries to outbox him, and this is something that Winky is surely capable of. Winky, at his best, possesses one of the best jabs in the business and if he is even a shadow of his former self, he should be able to drive that jab home at will against Williams, who showed he was susceptible to a southpaw against Quintana.

Another factor that may be getting too much attention is Williams’ size, which any boxing writer is contractually obligated to describe as “freakish.” Williams is a tall and long fighter, with a longer reach than even Wladimir Klitschko, but it shouldn’t make a huge difference in this fight, as Williams tends to fight short at times, hunching over and not keeping opponents at range. Williams also tends to keep his lead right hand low, which will only open up the counter straight left from Wright, another punch he throws about as well as anyone.

The fight should play out with Winky coming straight forward, using the jab to get inside and doing some work to the body of Williams. When on the outside, Winky should look for opportunities to throw that counter left. They will be there. If he can do this like he did against Taylor, another tall fighter, he should do well. In order for Williams to win he needs to keep the fight at a distance and use his long reach and punch output to keep Wright at bay.

The main caveat to this fight is whether Winky can shake off the rust and come out looking like the Winky of old. If the Wright who fought Trinidad shows up, look for a whitewash on the cards, if it’s the Wright who fought Taylor, look for something like 117-111 Wright, and if it is the Wright who fought Hopkins—or worse—well, it’ll be a long night for fans of the St. Petersburg-based Wright.

Will Wright be able to upset the odds and beat the younger, more physically gifted fighter, or will his own personal moon shot be aborted? Look for a decision win on the 116-112 order by the crafty older fighter, with Williams having moments, but unable to sustain them.

Article posted on 26.03.2009

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